Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said Sunday that former FBI Director James Comey did not tell lawmakers the email that played a role in his decision to publicly intervene in the Hillary Clinton email investigation was fake, as the FBI reportedly believed.
The Washington Post reported May 24 on a Russian intelligence document the FBI obtained that purported to show a "tacit understanding between the Clinton campaign and the Justice Department" over the investigation into Clinton's email server use. The FBI, according to the report, believed the document was unreliable and possibly fake.
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The document cited an email describing how then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had privately assured "someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter." If true, it would affect the integrity of the FBI's investigation, the Post reported:
Current and former officials have said that Comey relied on the document in making his July decision to announce on his own, without Justice Department involvement, that the investigation was over. That public announcement — in which he criticized Clinton and made extensive comments about the evidence — set in motion a chain of other FBI moves that Democrats now say helped Trump win the presidential election.
Comey said on CBS program "Face The Nation" he wanted to know if it was true that Comey was spurred by that document to make his July announcement that he would not recommend charges to the Justice Department. In that announcement, he also said Clinton was "extremely careless" with classified material.
Graham, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he wanted Comey to testify on the matter.
"I know on two separate occasions he has told members of the House and the Senate the main reason that he jumped into the election last year and took over the job of the Attorney General was because he believed there were emails between the Democratic National Committee and the Department of Justice that compromised the Department of Justice," Graham said. "He thought that the Russians were going to release these emails. That's why he jumped in and took over Loretta Lynch's job. I want to know, is that true?"
Lindsey Graham says Comey briefed Congress twice on DNC-Lynch email but did not mention it was fake. pic.twitter.com/qKzV5EEEda
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) June 11, 2017
Host John Dickerson pointed out the email was reportedly viewed as a fraud or doctored.
"When he told the House and Senate as early as a month ago, he never mentioned it was fake," Graham said. "I don't know if it's fake or not, but the FBI called me about this, John, and they said they wanted to brief me because I've got some of this wrong. I saw the Washington Post story. I doubt if it's fake. Maybe it is."
Graham said he wanted the members of the Judiciary Committee to be briefed on such a matter together, not separately.
The Russian document described the contents of a purported message from then-Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) to Open Society Foundations official Leonard Benardo, the Post reported:
In the supposed email, Wasserman Schultz claimed Lynch had been in private communication with a senior Clinton campaign staffer named Amanda Renteria during the campaign. The document indicated Lynch had told Renteria that she would not let the FBI investigation into Clinton go too far, according to people familiar with it.
Comey testified previously that Lynch's private tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton was the "capper" that showed him the Justice Department could not credibly wrap up the email probe.